Community Leaders 2023

Hellyer San Jac College
Brenda Hellyer
San Jacinto College 

Brenda Hellyer, Ed.D., serves as the fifth chancellor of San Jacinto College (SJC), the eighth largest community college in the state of Texas and recognized as a national Top-Five College by the Aspen Institute’s Community College Excellence Program. She has served in a variety of roles at SJC including executive vice president for Resource Development, vice chancellor for Fiscal Affairs, and executive vice chancellor before assuming her role as chancellor in 2009. Prior to joining SJC, Dr. Hellyer worked in the corporate world in accounting and as a small business owner. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Fort Hays State University, an MBA and an Ed.D. in Community College Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin. Brenda has served on a variety of community boards and committees, including chambers of commerce, economic development councils, city and county government, and non-profit organizations. She has also served and chaired various associations and commissions at the regional, state, and national levels. She has been recognized with various awards, including: Western Region CEO of the Year from the Association of Community College Trustees, One of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, and BAHEP’s Quasar award. She and her husband, Rusty, have three children and six grandchildren.

Malisha Patel
Malisha Patel
Senior Vice President, Chief Executive Officer
Memorial Hermann Southwest – Memorial Hermann Sugar Land 

Malisha S. Patel is Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Hermann Southwest (MHSW) and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land (MHSL) Hospitals.  Both of these hospitals are ANCC Magnet designated institutions.  In this position, Malisha oversees the strategic development and daily operations for both campuses while improving quality, clinical integration and the advancing of health of the community in Harris and Fort Bend counties. Prior to this role, as Vice President of Operations, Malisha was responsible for leading a $93 million expansion and renovation of MHSL.  During this time, Malisha also led MHSL on a journey to excellence, which culminated in the hospital winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award the highest presidential honor for performance excellence given in the country.  Her prior experience includes serving as internal consultant to the Texas/Gulf Coast region of Tenet Healthcare Corporation and Administrative Officer of the Ambulatory Care and Physical Medicine & Rehab departments at the VA North Texas Health Care System.

Malisha, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and holds a master’s in health care administration from Trinity University.  Community involvement includes active membership on several boards including Trinity Healthcare Administration Alumni Board, Texas Hospital Association Foundation Board, Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston and March of Dimes.  She was recognized by the Houston Business Journal (HBJ) in 2019 as a 40 Under 40 honoree. And recently, she was selected as one of the HBJ’s honorees for the 2021 Most Admired CEOs.

She is married to her husband, Bhavesh Patel, and they have two sons, Jai and Avi.

Ronda Trow
Ronda Trow
Director, Community and Governmental Affairs
The Howard Hughes Corporation

Born and raised in Conroe, Texas, Ronda is third generation Montgomery County. A strong advocate for the connection between business and the community they serve, Ronda began her career at The Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce as Membership and Marketing Director and held the position for six years before obtaining her real estate license. Working as a Senior Sales Associate for David Weekley Homes she participated in the vast growth of Montgomery County in The Woodlands and Conroe, TX.

In 2005 her husband’s job relocated them to St. Louis MO where she became the Executive Director of Eureka Chamber of Commerce. She was instrumental is increasing membership by 75% and played a role in Economic Development before returning to Texas.

Upon arriving back in the Lone Star State, she was hired to create the Public Relations and Communications Department at the San Jacinto River Authority, a government agency whose mission is to develop, conserve, and protect the water resources of the San Jacinto River basin. As the Public Relations and Communications Manager, she oversaw the communication efforts during the worst single- year drought in the history of Texas in 2011 andthroughout Hurricane Harvey, the most significant rainfall event in U.S. history.

In 2021 she combined her real estate, government, and corporate experience to accept the role of Director of Community and Government Affairs for The Howard Hughes Corporation. After only one week of employment, she was leading the charge that would defeat The Woodlands from incorporating and becoming a city.

She lives in South Montgomery County with Kevin, her husband of 27 years. They have two boys and two grandchildren.

Kelly Whitley
Kelley Whitley
Vice President, Investor Relations and Communications
Murphy Oil Corporation

Kelly Whitley is Vice President, Investor Relations and Communications, for Murphy Oil Corporation with responsibility for investor relations and communications, as well as community relations. In her role, she is a member of the Executive Leadership Team; Environmental, Social and Governance Executive Committee; and the Disclosure Committee.

Since joining Murphy in 2015, Kelly has led the company’s messaging strategy and brand management. She was instrumental in redefining and launching the company’s mission, vision, values and behaviors campaign, along with sponsoring the employee ambassador program. Prior to Murphy, she held investor relations and communications positions with other upstream and oilfield service companies. Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Gonzaga University.

She is a member of the National Investor Relations Institute, Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Energy Network, Executive Women’s Partnership and American Petroleum Institute Communications Committee. Kelly also serves on the Steering Committee for the United Way of Greater Houston Women’s Initiative and is a member of National Charity League.

Lynda Villanueva
Dr. Lynda Villanueva
Lee College 

Dr. Lynda Villanueva became the tenth president of Lee College in January 2020 and is the first ethnic minority president in Lee College’s 89-year history. As a leader with more than 20 years of experience in higher education, she is known for her bold and innovative leadership style as well as her commitment to serving all students regardless of their background. Dr. Villanueva is an alumnus of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship Program and holds numerous board positions including the United Way of Greater Baytown Area & Chambers County, the Baytown Chamber of Commerce, the Community College Research Center, the Houston Port Economic Alliance, and the Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital. Dr. Villanueva holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Colorado State University, a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Houston, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Houston.